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Cablegate: Media Reaction; Karl Rove's Resignation; Venezuelan

VZCZCXYZ0021
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1595/01 2261722
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141722Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8921
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL//SCJ2//
RULGPUA/USCOMSOLANT

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001595

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, I/GWHA, WHA, WHA/PDA, WHA/BSC,
WHA/EPSC
CDR USSOCOM FOR J-2 IAD/LAMA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR PREL
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION; KARL ROVE'S RESIGNATION; VENEZUELAN
PRESIDENT HUGO CHAVEZ; 08/14/07


1. SUMMARY STATEMENT

Leading international stories cover the resignation of US President
George W. Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove; and
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's reaction to the scandal involving
a Venezuelan businessman who tried to smuggle nearly 800,000 US
dollars into Argentina.

2. OPINION PIECES AND EDITORIALS

- "The end of an era starts in Washington"

Alberto Armendriz, international columnist of daily-of-record "La
Nacisn," comments (08/14) "The departure of Karl Rove from the USG
marks the beginning of the end of an era for US President George W.
Bush, whose domestic agenda is virtually paralyzed now that
Democrats dominate on Capitol Hill.

"Stephen Hess, analyst from Brookings Institution and professor of
George Washington University, opined 'this is the clearest evidence
that Bush has become a 'lame duck' without much power of action.
With his popularity at barely 30 percent, the Congress controlled by
Democrats and the White House without its main political aide, this
presidency will be stalled. On domestic affairs, we should not
expect anything new until after the upcoming elections.'

"... Then, the US president is likely to prioritize foreign policy
issues in order to ensure his historical legacy. He will probably
trust his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary
Robert Gates even more, who will now focus on the struggle to
stabilize Iraq and the Middle East.

"... However, given the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and the
prevailing tension between the US and Iran, Bush's chances of
success seem scant.

"On the domestic front, Rove's absence will start to be noticed
right away. Next month, the USG will have to face the submission of
a crucial report on the development of the war in Iraq, based on
which the US Congress could support or not the increase in troop
numbers.

"Also, in September, US legislators will debate the approval of a
new budget. The White House will obviously miss the 'Architect's'
abilities to convince legislators."

- "When friends go away"

Paula Lugones, international columnist of leading "Clarn," writes
(08/14) "Does (Rove's) resignation mark the end of Bush's political
life? Shortly after announcing his resignation, Rove told 'The New
York Times': 'Absolutely not.' In a way, this is a lie - the US
President's political life has long been agonizing and Rove's
departure has only inflicted a final blow. Other USG officials had
already left, as well as several Republican legislators and
governors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger who wanted to distance
themselves from this unpopular president as much as possible.

"Rove has abandoned his friend in the middle of 'a storm.' Truly
enough, writing his memories about his stay at the White House will
be a much quieter and more profitable task."

- "What's a fistful of dollars?"

Michael Soltys, executive editor of liberal, English-language
"Buenos Aires Herald," writes (08/14) "Venezuelan President Hugo
Chvez has remained incredulously contemptuous of the fuss being
made here in Argentina over the 800,000 undeclared dollars in a
Venezuelan businessman's suitcase and it must be admitted that in
strictly quantitative terms Chvez has a point.

"After all, the greenbacks in Guido Antonini Wilson's suitcase would
be the equivalent of some 10,000 barrels of oil at current world oil
prices when Venezuela produces around three million barrels a
day...

"And what is 800,000 dollars when compared to the 59 billion dollars
at which Fortune magazine now estimates the fortune of Mexican
tycoon Carlos Slim...

"Again, what is 800,000 dollars even when compared to 1.8 billion
dollars, the estimated assets of the Colombian drug lord 'Lollypop'
('Chupeta') apprehended in the Sao Paulo area last Tuesday?

"Yet these figures big and small also have their moral dimension -
not least the 800,000 dollars with all the cancerous corruption and
web of complicities implied. Thus Latin America might gloat in

having a bigger billionaire than anybody in North America in the
person of Slim but is not this also a telling comment on the
inequity of income distribution in this region?

"The intensity of Venezuelan arms purchases from Russia has led to
talk of starting a Kalashnikov plant in Venezuela but this cannot be
regarded as a neutral investment - especially if the arms end up
going to the new allies of Chvez in Iran, for example."

To see more Buenos Aires reporting, visit our
classified website at:
http://www.state.sqov.gov/p/wha/buenosaires

WAYNE

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